Historians are hired to research a wide variety of topics for their clients. Typically it is the lineage of a family, or the history of a property or an organization. Occasionally research is needed to clear up a question involving a property and its relationship with another. This was the case with a parcel that was part of the Oregon State Hospital grounds that required the expertise of Kimberli Fitzgerald, the City of Salem's historic preservation officer, and our own research bulldog, co-host Christy Van Heukelem.
This parcel was originally part of the Josiah L. & Elizabeth Winn Parrish donation land claim. The Parrish family donated 10 acres to the Oregon Children's Aid Society in the 1880's for construction of the orphan's home, as well as several adjacent acres to the northwest for construction of the Lee Mission Cemetery. The Glen Oaks Orphan's Home was sold to Salem Hospital in 1887, and Salem General Hospital opened there in 1889.
Now that the State of Oregon has removed the previous buildings from the North Campus property, they wished to sell the property to the City of Salem. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde notified the State that they had questions as to whether any remains of Native American patients were still interred in the cemetery once located on this site.
The State contended that the remains were disinterred in the early 1900s and then cremated, but records to substantiate that claim could not be located. The State then hired specialists to dig test holes at the site they had originally identified as the cemetery, but nothing was found. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) was also utilized but found no conclusive evidence of any remains either.
Although she did find records of the purchase and installation of a crematory on the grounds of the Asylum, she was unable to locate any documents verifying that the remains were actually disinterred and cremated, However, she also found no documentation that any graves or remains were discovered during the years of subsequent redevelopment on this site.